You feel your biological clock ticking. Scratch that. It's all you hear, every second of every minute of every day. This ticking might have been the rhythm you've been marching to for years or it might have crept up on you unexpectedly one day as you were holding your best friend's newborn for the first time. Either way, you want a baby. And you want one now. This overwhelming need fills every inch of your body; and you just know it's time.
While your heart might be ready, however, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself - and your partner- before you jump headfirst into trying to conceive.
Trying to Conceive? Let's Talk First
Are You BOTH Ready To Be Parents?
While many women dream of motherhood from the time they receive their first baby doll, most men just don't have fantasies about fatherhood in the same way. You might feel that you are in the right time and place in your marriage or relationship to have a baby, and that you are more than ready to be a mother, but don't forget one very important element: your partner.
Talk to your partner about how you are feeling, and really take the time to listen to his feelings on the subject. Some men might find this particular conversation intimidating at first, so don't force him to give you an answer right away. If your partner is the kind of man who likes to take time and think about things before talking about them, bring the subject up and then let it go for a few days or even weeks. Revisit it after you feel you've given him plenty of time to truly collect his thoughts. Remember, having a baby might bring on different responsibilities for each of you. While you've prepared in your mind how you will raise and nurture your child, he needs time to prepare in his mind how his duties as a husband and father will change things for him.
If you plan on being a SAHM, he will have the weight of ensuring he can provide for a larger family financially, as well as being there to support you and your child emotionally. Becoming a parent is life changing. You want to make sure that you are both ready to make that change together.
Is Your Marriage In A Good And Solid Place?
Having a baby can be one of the most challenging and trying times for new parents. It is often a difficult transition for even the most stable and loving couples. Some women think that having a baby might help them reconnect with their spouses and serve as a stabilizer in a troubled marriage. This is one of the worst mistakes they can make.
Your marriage needs to be solid, stable and built around love, trust, respect and compassion for one another in order to truly be able to instill those same qualities into your parenting. If your marriage is unstable, not only will you be lacking adequate support and understanding from your spouse during a truly transitional time, but you will also be reflecting that negativity onto your baby. In the midst of the chaotic and uncertain newborn months, you and your spouse might begin to resent each other and drift further and further apart.
Are You Financially Stable To Start A Family?
You know raising a child will be expensive, but how do you know if you are financially prepared? Not only do you have to take into account all of the clothing, diapers, car seats, strollers, cribs and toys your infant will require in the first few months, but the expenses just keep growing through the years. (Food, schooling, glasses, braces, medical expenses.) Thinking about it can be overwhelming.
Too often, couples jump into parenthood without having a solid financial plan, and then they are hit with the reality of it all too late. USDA.gov has created a valuable tool to help you figure out just how much raising a child will cost in your personal situation. You can input your financial information into their easy to use "Cost of Raising a Child Calculator" and find out just how prepared you are.
You can determine whether or not you will be able to be a SAHM or if you will need to return to work after your baby is born. This might be a great tool to bring to the table when discussing the prospect of having a baby with your spouse if he has any apprehensions.
Are You Ready To Replace "Couple Time" With "Baby Time"?
Everyone will tell you the same thing, but you will never truly understand it until you have been up for three days straight, haven't showered in a week and are deliriously changing what seems like the 50th diaper in the last hour: babies are all-consuming.
The second you bring that little bundle of joy into your home, you can kiss the romantic nights out on the town, bottles of wine and late night movies, and spur of the moment weekend getaways goodbye. While they will be replaced with the joys of parenthood, you might find it difficult to give up your couple time at first. The first year is always the most difficult transition from couplehood to parenthood. That's why it is so important to have a solid relationship before having a baby. You just won't have time to devote to each other like you used to.
As your child gets older, it will be easier to make time for each other, but you need to be sure you are ready to completely switch gears and focus on your baby in the beginning before you decide it's time to have one.
(For more insight on the changes that will take place in your marriage after having a baby, and the proactive steps you can take to safeguard it, check out "Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More and Argue Less as Your Family Grows.")
Are Your Parenting Styles In Sync?
As newlyweds, you talked and daydreamed together about how many children you wanted to have and where you wanted to raise them. You might have even picked out names. But now that you're ready to actually have a baby, how much do you really know about your spouse's parenting style?
Are you on the same page about discipline techniques, breastfeeding, education and how you will divide parental duties? These are just a few of the things you should discuss and sort out before you get pregnant.
It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of pregnancy bliss and think that everything will just fall into place once the baby is born, but it's important to have a solid and united parenting plan in place beforehand. You certainly don't want conflict to arise in the midst of a stressful situation because you didn't realize you had conflicting views on an important subject pertaining to your child. The more you plan ahead, the easier it will be to get through all of the challenges parenthood brings your way.
Photo credit: The Art of Making a Baby